Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Tribute To CJ Twomey…

It may seem strange to some of you that I would be writing a tribute to a young man I never met yet I feel I know…

In Loving Memory of CJ

When I first started reading blogs I really thought what an interesting thing to do… to be able to sit and write funny stories about your life, your family or whatever thing might come to your mind but I never thought of myself as being able to wade through all the technology I figured you had to learn to be able to write a blog.  I mean I have amassed many stories, mostly funny, some sad, some thoughtful and some downright ornery but I didn’t have the nerve to even think about trying to write a blog of my own until I ran across Hallie’s Wonderful World Of Weiners.

I read a comment that Hallie had made on another blog and it was just irreverent and ornery enough to pique my interest and clicked on her name and wandered into the most incredible, fun loving, and just plain loving family with all the attributes of my own family, just less kids.  While Hallie, John, CJ and Connor loved to tease each other and play jokes on each other the love in their family was very apparent from the first post of Hallie’s that I read.  As I kept reading I learned not only of the love and fun they had as a family I found that Hallie’s twisted and sarcastic tales, not only about the weiners, but also about CJ and Connor, John and Hallie herself drew me into the family.  I read about CJ’s excitement about when he first went into a special program in the Air Force.  One proud Shmoops and one even prouder mom. 

When I feel a kinship with a blogger I tend to go back and read from their beginning of the great adventure into the blogsphere.  Every post I read made me want to come back and read some more and that is how I got to ‘know’ CJ.  He had the most incredible smile.  His eyes just danced in every picture that I saw of him, especially when he was horsing around with Connor.  I could see the love they had for each other. The way Connor looked up to his big brother and the way that CJ returned that love.  Every family picture I saw CJ was always smiling that great smile, not just a posed smile for the camera.  I felt that everything about him was for real, that he lived every moment for that moment. 

I didn’t kid myself that it was all a fairy tale happy world, no family’s world is… there are arguments and fights and tears and groundings but you could tell there was much more happiness and good times than there were bad.  There is going to be such a void in the Twomey’s world, not only Hallie and John with the loss of their oldest son, but in Connor’s world also.  He lost his only brother, the brother he looked up to and admired, his touchstone and his confidante. 

I hope that CJ had half a clue of the many people he and his family touched in his too short life.  We will never know the whys, but one thing I know is the good Lord has one helluva soldier in his heavenly world.

I wish I’d had the chance to meet CJ and his family in real life but I feel like I knew him and I know that every time I’d see jet trails in the sky I’d think of an airman nicknamed Shmoops… and now every time I see a jet trail in the sky I’ll say a prayer for strength for his family to get through this horrible time to the time when, although the sadness will never go away, that the Twomeys will be able to laugh and tell stories of the Shmoopy man of Twomey land.

If you’d like to know more about CJ you can go to Hallie’s blog, The Wonderful World Of Weiners and read the tribute to CJ written by two close friends of the family by clicking on this link:

Wonderful World of Wieners

CJ, thank you for the joy in your smile that made me smile and may the good Lord hold you and your family close and soothe and protect you all and give them the strength to keep on going after this huge loss.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Mom… I Couldn’t Wait To Tell You…

About the experience I had the other day.  You know that I’m living at cousin Carol’s now since December and that Walter is there also. We are all three doing as well as can be expected and we all get along great so we know that you and Aunt Mack are looking down on us smiling…

Enough of that for now, we can catch up on that later.  I had the most incredible experience of my life, next to being with Sarah when she had her girl.  Carol’s boy Scott was up at the house to grab a bite of lunch as he does most everyday.  He had a fellow helping him, fertilizing a pasture about a half mile or less from the house.  Anyway, Dusty called Scott that there was a heifer that was a first timer that was in labor and he could see the front feet of the baby and nothing else.  Scott thought he better go check on her and I asked if I could go.  I jumped climbed into the backhoe with him and off we went and in my excitement I flat forgot to grab my camera because we left so quick.  I’d get out and open the gates for Scott and then close them after he was through them so the other cows would stay in their own pastures.  Sure enough we got there and little momma was laying down and all you could see was two tiny little hooves.

Scott, knowing she was a first time mother to be decided that it would be better to drive her back up to the barn in case the baby had to be pulled so he started herding her with the backhoe along the fence line to get her to the gate that would put us in the pasture closer to the barn.

He was doing great until she got into a place with some trees and brush so I got out and he told me which wire was the hot one and I went in after her and drove her out and then just kept driving her while Scott went and opened the gate so she could just go on into that pasture just east of the barn.  I was doing pretty good slapping and flinging my arms and hollering, “Get going little mama!”  until we got through the gate and headed up towards the barn area and she decided to go up the side of the dam where the big pond is and I knew I had to get up there to keep her from turning back towards the east end of the dam.

I’m here to tell you momma that even though I quit smoking over ten years ago I was sucking for air by the time I scrambled up that dang steep side of the dam to keep driving her towards the barn and not let her get turned around and heading the other way.

Scott was driving around the long way and I was gasping for air and trying to wave at him to hurry around to the south side of the pond to help me out.  About the time that crazy heifer decided she’d wade through the skinny end of that pond, Dusty was driving his tractor up, still with the fertilizer dispenser on it  and I hollered at him that I didn’t mind herding that heifer on foot but I was not going to do the same short cut that she did because I knew the water would be too cold.  He laughed at me and went on around where he could cut her off and get her headed back on up to the barn…

Scott could tell that she was in some trouble and had said that they might have to help momma out and pull that calf since it was her first.  Finally we get her up in the pens and about the time I got the heavy gate shut and headed up to see what I could help with Scott hollered for me to go get the long chain he had on the floor of his back hoe.  Now mom, I’m 65 now and way out of shape and I’m gasping for breath but I turned right around and climbed over that gate (mostly because I wasn’t sure I could lift that heavy sucker again), climbed up into the cab of the backhoe thanking the good Lord that there were hand holds I could use to pull myself up with, saw the chain that Scott had asked for and made my way back out and pulled that long chain that felt like a hundred pounds out and was just dragging in behind me because I didn’t have the strength left in me to pick it up and carry it…

I got back to the gate, stopped and looked at it and said no way was I climbing that again so I skinnied under the gate thanking the Lord that it was pretty dry mud and cow patties, got up and headed towards where Scott was and about that time Dusty got there and he took the chain for me and I was able to stop, bend over and try to suck some air into my burning lungs.

They drove the momma to be up in a chute like tight space between a couple of gates and Scott put the chain behind her so she couldn’t back out, he went into the barn and came out with a bucket of water that I assume had some antiseptic in it because of the color of the water, what looked like a choke chain for a large dog but about 3 foot long. Dusty brought up a pole like contraption with a winch on one end in case they couldn’t pull the baby by hand. 

All this time I’m asking questions and Scott is being very patient and explaining things to me and kinda getting a laugh at this greenhorn but he knows I love to learn so he wasn’t laughing too hard at me.   Time he got all this stuff together, mom, that baby had pulled his feet back in but even I could tell that the sack had broken and they needed to get him out of his momma.  I said it was a bull calf because he was being so stubborn and in the end I was right.

Anyhow, Scott said, “Who’s gonna hold her tail?”   I immediately volunteered because I wasn’t quite ready to go fishing for feet… I grabbed ahold of her tail and held on for dear life because I remembered from childhood’s hours watching Scott’s granddaddy milk and getting angry and tying a cows tail to a post in the barn where he was milking her and she was swatting at flies and caught Uncle Bud upside the head with a nasty, crappy tail and he was not happy so I wanted to make sure that I held on so the same thing wouldn’t happen to Scott.

He splashed some of the antiseptic water around her nether regions, looped the ends of that long dog choke collar looking chain around each of his wrists and he carefully went in fishing for feet.  He got them out and slipped the loop of the chain around each little foot and he and Dusty, both being strong, stout lads, each had a handle that they hooked onto the chain and proceeded to pull on those little feet with every labor pain and they both ended up sitting on their butts with their feet propped  against fence posts for more pulling leverage and were pulling strong and steady when Dusty looked over at Scott and said, “You are gonna catch this baby, right? ‘Cause I sure ain’t!”  Scott had to laugh at that for sure. 

Those strapping lads weren’t making much headway so they rigged up the calf puller.  It is essentially a contraption on a long pole that butts up to the heifer’s backside with a strap that goes over her back and at the other end of the pole is a winch with a cable that has a hook that hooks onto the chain around the calf’s feet.  Scott had Dusty on the winch, I was holding onto that tail for dear life and Scott went fishing again to make sure the baby’s head was in the right position and he had Dusty start cranking as he was trying to work that head out of the cow with out having to cut her.   Dusty steadily cranked with each labor pain and Scott managed to work that baby’s nose out and wipe out his nostrils and he had Dusty keep on cranking and a minute later out pops the calf past his shoulders.  Scott took the tail from me and pulled the heifer over on her side and got everything unhooked and momma took over as soon as Scott pulled the baby the rest of the way out.  It was so awesome! 

This little guy was all grungy and still had half the birth sack on his back and back feet but he was breathing and alive.  And I got to see it and even help (a little).  I was so excited I was walking about 3 feet off the ground.  I borrowed Scott’s phone and called Bro and my Cuz answered and I told her where my camera was and would she or Bro run it up the road to me so I could get some pictures of the mom and the baby.  When I went to the house I was telling them all about it and I’d head to my room and think of something else and go back and tell them about whatever else it was I thought about.  Several times I did that and they were laughing at seeing me so excited about helping (sort of) birthing a calf.  I told them that if I’d had a heart attack and died it would have been worth it helping to get that critter into this world, safe and sound with no ill effects on mom or son from having to be pulled. 

All I could think of was I wished I could call you and tell you all about it because I knew you would be so excited with me and for me getting to experience this renewal and regeneration of life.  So I decided to write this novella to you because it has been a while since I was so elated about something that I wished I could call you and tell you about whatever it was that was so very special.

Even though it will be sixteen years in another almost two weeks since you died there are things that happen in my life that I so wish I could call you up or stop by the house and share them with you.  I know you are always with me and I always carry you close in my heart.  I love you, momma, and miss you so much sometimes that I just need to do something like this to feel I’m sharing with you.

Love from your baby girl…


P.S.  That little bull calf… I called him Ornery Cuss because he even started out as a pain in his momma’s backside.  I love you momma.